A RECOVERY GUIDE FOR ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS
by Megan Denton Ray
Dream your father relapses
and checks himself into a facility
because he can’t take care of you and Emily
anymore. Dream your mother comes to pick you up
and suddenly you’re in her Mark III Conversion Van,
pine green, swerving down a narrow
canyon road and the van has almost fallen off
the edge—over and over and over—but somehow
bounces back to the middle of the road, cartoon-like—over
and over and over. And you and Emily are crying
and Mom says everything is okay
but you realize that she is also drunk
and she is laughing and there is no safe place to go
and she keeps drinking mouth wash
from tiny plastic cups with tiny plastic lids
and promises it’s not vodka. It’s Listerine.
remember that all fear feels the same: right before
you get hit by a car, or when someone leaves you, and
I’d imagine—right before you die. Remember to swirl
around it in a clockwise direction with a lamp
in your throat. Remember that radiance will fall
on us all with the strength and delicacy
of lace. With heat lightning. With blue lights flashing
and your mother slumped over the steering wheel.
Your father slumped over the steering wheel
in the dream where he blacked out for 3 hours—no, the
not-dream—where he blacked out for 3 hours and drove
through town, then hit the neighbor’s brick mailbox
so close to home. He was so close to home. The policeman
tapping at his window. Your father
in the back of a cop car and off to jail he goes.
try holding on to the fire this time. Try pulling raindrops
back into the earth. Try thanking the neighbor
for not pressing charges. For keeping the secret.
For checking in on the children from time to time.
are you still there?—those with pennies
who look for pennies? The god who hears me
when I cough? There is a reason for good juice
and toast. For putting flowers all over the house.
Must I ration my wellness?
Megan Denton Ray is the author of Mustard, Milk, and Gin—winner of the 2019 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize (Hub City Press, March 2020). She holds an MFA from Purdue University. Her work has appeared recently or will soon in Poetry, The Sun, The Adroit Journal, Passages North, and elsewhere. She currently lives and teaches in Tennessee.